Well-child visits linked to more than 700,000 subsequent flu-like illnesses

February 12, 2014, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

New research shows that well-child doctor appointments for annual exams and vaccinations are associated with an increased risk of flu-like illnesses in children and family members within two weeks of the visit. This risk translates to more than 700,000 potentially avoidable illnesses each year, costing more than $490 million annually. The study was published in the March issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

"Well child visits are critically important. However, our results demonstrate that healthcare professionals should devote more attention to reducing the risk of spreading infections in waiting rooms and clinics. Infection control guidelines currently exist. To increase patient safety in outpatient settings, more attention should be paid to these guidelines by , patients, and their families," said Phil Polgreen, MD, MPH, lead author of the study.

Researchers from the University of Iowa used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine the healthcare trends of 84,595 families collected from 1996-2008. Included in the analysis were demographic, office-based, emergency room, and outpatient cases records. After controlling for factors, such as the presence of other children, insurance, and demographics, the authors found that well-child visits for children younger than six years old increased the probability of a flu-like in these or their families during the subsequent two weeks by 3.2 percentage points.

This incremental risk could amount to more than 700,000 avoidable cases of flu-like illness each year and $492 million in direct and indirect costs, based on established estimates for outpatient influenza.

In a commentary accompanying the study, Lisa Saiman, MD, notes, "The true cost of flu-like illnesses are much higher since only a fraction result in ambulatory visits and many more cases are likely to result in missed work or school days. Furthermore, these flu-like illness visits are associated with inappropriate antimicrobial use."

The authors stress the importance of infection prevention and control in ambulatory settings, suggesting pediatric clinics follow recommended guidelines that include improving environmental cleaning, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene compliance.

"Even with interventions, such as the restricted use of communal toys or separate sick and well-child waiting areas, if hand-hygiene compliance is poor, and potentially infectious patients are not wearing masks, preventable infections will continue to occur," said Polgreen.

Explore further: New pediatric infection prevention guidelines for residential facilities

Related Stories

New pediatric infection prevention guidelines for residential facilities

September 18, 2013
With the evolving changes in the delivery of healthcare to children worldwide, which frequently include long-distance travel and lodging for specialized medical treatments, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America ...

Are you listening? Kids' ear infections cost health care system nearly $3 billion a year

January 9, 2014
Acute otitis media, or ear infection, is the most common ailment among kids of preschool age and younger in the U.S., primarily because these children have immature middle-ear drainage systems, higher exposure to respiratory ...

Infectious diarrhea germs stick to healthcare worker hands

December 23, 2013
A new study finds nearly one in four healthcare workers' hands were contaminated with Clostridium difficile spores after routine care of patients infected with the bacteria. The study was published in the January issue of ...

Saving dollars while helping babies: Nurse home visits for infants save $3 for every $1 spent

December 19, 2013
As healthcare costs continue to balloon, a new Duke study points to a surprising avenue for potential savings: nurse home visits. For every $1 spent on nurse home visiting for newborns, $3 were saved in healthcare costs. ...

Flu shot likely prevented 13 million illnesses, 110,000 hospitalizations from 2005-2011

June 19, 2013
Approximately 13 million illnesses and over 110,00 hospitalizations may have been averted by the flu vaccine over the last 6 years in the U.S, according to calculations published June 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE ...

Contact precautions shown to modify healthcare workers care delivery

December 11, 2012
The prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) can help reduce patient morbidity and mortality, but a common prevention effort for patients with hard to treat infections known as contact precautions, ...

Recommended for you

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

Don't hold your nose and close your mouth when you sneeze, doctors warn

January 15, 2018
Pinching your nose while clamping your mouth shut to contain a forceful sneeze isn't a good idea, warn doctors in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

New antifungal provides hope in fight against superbugs

January 12, 2018
Microscopic yeast have been wreaking havoc in hospitals around the world—creeping into catheters, ventilator tubes, and IV lines—and causing deadly invasive infection. One culprit species, Candida auris, is resistant ...

Dengue takes low and slow approach to replication

January 11, 2018
A new study reveals how dengue virus manages to reproduce itself in an infected person without triggering the body's normal defenses. Duke researchers report that dengue pulls off this hoax by co-opting a specialized structure ...

Different strains of same bacteria trigger widely varying immune responses

January 11, 2018
Genetic differences between different strains of the same pathogenic bacterial species appear to result in widely varying immune system responses, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.